Saturday, January 9, 2010

Illustrating a point

Not to belabor our grouse over that ugly Beeradvocate cover, but there is this addendum to make ...

It's easy to take a swat at someone else's work; it's another thing to show you can do better. A few minutes spent looking through the photos we've shot in the past three years turned up this image from 2008.

These hops ended up in Weyerbacher Brewing's special harvest ale of that year, tossed into the hopback on the heels of being picked on a late-August Saturday, from the acre of Cascades and Nuggets Dan Weirback put in the ground at his farm in Lehigh County, Pa. (Dan grew the hops the summer after that late-2007 price spike; now that there's a glut in the hops market, some brewers are pretty much irked and questioning what happened back then.)

So is this a cover-worthy photo, or at least an example of an eye-catching photo? Honestly not to brag, but we say yes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

NJ beer has a friend in DC

His name is Rep. Leonard Lance.

The 7th District Republican congressman left the following comment today to an August post:

I wanted to let you know that I recently toured Climax in Roselle Park to announce my membership to the House Small Brewers Caucus.

I am proud to be the only member of the New Jersey congressional delegation on the Small Brewers Caucus.

In an effort to reducing the tax burden on New Jersey’s brewers, I am a cosponsor of HR 836, the “Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act of 2009,” which effectively returns the federal beer excise tax back to its pre-1991 level of $9 per barrel.

This legislation would reduce the tax burden for all brewers and specifically reduces the small brewer rate by 50% to $3.50 a barrel.

Rest assured I will continue to support and promote New Jersey's small domestic producers in order to keep this American industry thriving. These are good jobs in our local communities that protect a fine American craftsmanship.

Best personal wishes,
Leonard Lance
Member of Congress

Climax Brewing owner Dave Hoffmann says Lance came by on Monday. And while he's grateful for Lance's outreach, Dave says he explained to the congressman that the heaviest hand of government yoking Jersey brewers comes from Trenton, not Washington.

Still, what Lance is doing is significant – lend New Jersey craft brewers a voice in Washington. And consider this: The caucus will turn 3 years old this year. Since its founding, no member of Jersey's House delegation bothered to take an interest in the state's craft beer industry until Rep. Lance, who has a distinguished track record of putting New Jersey first, stepped up.

For that he deserves points. Let's hope the seven other Jersey representatives on the Hill who have breweries in their districts follow Lance's lead.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No, no, no

The new issue of Beeradvocate came today ...

Maybe this is hypercritical, but Jason, Todd, guys, that cover photo is garbage. Sorry, but that is a throw-away image from the Canon's flashcard, a quick frame shot to find an f/stop and gauge room lighting (if you left your light meter at home), and then the photographer chimps at the back of his camera, deletes the pic and lines up a real shot. Not a closeup of crap.

OK, so it's a closeup of a mash tun being cleaned out. It's not even a good photo of that (it's cluttered-looking as far as composition goes, and your eye falls immediately to the door latch area).

But really it's not about anything. Nothing.

What's so compelling about cleaning out a mash tun? You can't tell the rake is a rake (sorry, two feet of handle identifies nothing, whereas the end of the rake would have); that muddy color on the right is probably steam, but you have to hang out at a brewery to know that. The image is flashed-out overexposed on the left; meanwhile, the action (the falling grain) is underexposed. It's not color balanced, so the raked-out grain looks green, and if you had to fix it in post, then you're just playing garbage in garbage out.

But most of all, the shot perspective is indicative of nothing. It's slightly to the left of head-on, over a shoulder. It's just junk and shouldn't be on the cover, nor anywhere, for that matter.

Sorry, but it's a bad job. And it if were a beer, you guys would be going "D-".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In search of ...

Stainless steel ... some extra tank space, to be extact.

Last year was a pretty good year for New Jersey brewers, with some nice spikes in growth. For instance, High Point was up nearly 30 percent as of last month. Growth is up about 45 percent for River Horse, which is where the blog's compass of discussion is pointing today.

They're slammin' busy along the Delaware Canal in Lambertville. They have been for some time, to the point where an extra brace or foursome of 40-barrel fermenters and an extra pair of bright beer tanks would comfortably ease the production pace for brewer Chris Rakow, his assistant, and the packaging staff. (There have been some personnel changes at RH, and Chris, formerly of Harpoon Brewing, has been handling the brewing for a while now.)

The pace has been tight enough to force RH to pull back on some of its product-lineup plans, a tough thing for a brewery that has been really amping up its flight of brews over the past 27 months (i.e. a double wit, a double ipa, a dunkel, a honey wheat, a stout and an unfiltered lager).

Demand for last year's summer ale trumped some jazzing up of RH's Belgian triple and a planned bottling a fall dunkel. However, RH did unveil a second season, or redux version (as the brewery calls it), of the hybrid oatmeal milk stout it debuted in 2008 in the Brewer's Reserve roster. (Note to RH followers: Consider this busy pace when wondering why the RH Web site runs a little behind on updates.)

So some more steel is rather import.

RH has been scouting around for used tanks for a while (pre-owned is, of course, more economical that commissioning a metal fabricator). But getting that optimal match between brewery needs and what's available on the market, says RH co-owner Glenn Bernabeo, can prove challenging. But, he adds, the brewery hopes something can be in place around March.

Meanwhile, look for an RH rye pale ale to come out soon (most likely draft) and the reviving of back-burnered plans to pumpkin-spice the Belgian triple.

Maneuvering room may be tight, but the folks at RH are still have some tricks up their sleeves.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Imperial pils

Quick note:

The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild's January update is out, and if you're in North Jersey, or you are an adventurous roving South Jerseyan, you might take note of the imperial pilsner from Ramstein.

High Point featured this at the guild's festival last summer in Camden. It's a great beer, and worth checking out. But you'll have to travel to Manhattan or Brooklyn.

For now. Hopefully it can wind up on this side of the Hudson.